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Stiuits' CoUnsr IBsitm, hu SbptdsH Stpjuiintmcnt, to |ger fRajtstz, anH ia 


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Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street. 


The difficulty experienced by the writer of this little 
Work in her eariy practice of Portrait Fainting in Water- 
Colours, induced her to think that a few practical direc- 
tions would be useful^ especially to those students who 
are unable to obtain the advantages of regular instruc- 
tions in painting. 

The writer has endeavoured to acquire from various 
sources the best information on the subject, and has also 
endeavoured to show that the instructions laid down are 
founded upon the solid principles which were carried out 
in the practice of the best masters. It will give her 
unfeigned pleasure to think, that in facilitating the attain- 
ment of mechanical skill, her little manual may lead the 
way to the study of this interesting portion of the art. 

JANUARY, 1851. 


Preface v 

Materials — 

Paper, and mode of stretching 10 

Colours 14 

Brushes . 21 

Number of sittings for a portrait — 

Position of the figure 23 

Costume 24 

Arrangement of the light 27 

Drawing the figure 28 

Method of painting 31 

General maxims in colouring 34 

Setting the palette for painting flesh 36 

First painting . . . . . . . * . . 37 

Second painting 40 

Third painting 45 

Draperies 52 

Backgrounds 53 

Alterations and corrections 57 

Conclusion 59 









Taa person unaccustomed to the use of colours^ it 
appears a task of considerable difficulty to paint a head 
from life^ and to imitate with accuracy and precision^ or 
even to be able to distinguish^ the delicate gradations of 
the tints^ and the correct form^ as modified by perspective^ 
of every feature. It is hoped that the directions contained 
in the following pages will render this delightful study 
comparatively easy to those who commence it with a com- 
petent knowledge of drawings and of light and shade. 
Before^ however^ describing the process of painting a head 

10 PAPER. 

in water-colours, it will be necessary to advert to the 
materials employed, namely, the paper, brushes, and 


The paper for painting portraits should be thick, and 
moderately rough. If too thin, it will not bear rubbing 
out ; if too fine and smooth, the colours would be apt to 
work off; if too rough, it would be impossible to work the 
flesh up to a fine surface. The paper which many artists 
prefer, is Whatman's extra double-elephant, the size of 
which is forty inches by twenty-six inches. This paper 
is sufficiently rough to afford a good hold to the colours, 
and sufficiently smooth to ensure a good surface. The 
student should be aware that there is a right and wrong 
side to paper, and that as knots and other defects are 
more apparent on the wrong side, all drawings should be 
made on the right side. It is easy to distinguish the 
right side from the wrong of a whoU sheet of paper, by 
holding it up to the light, and looking at the maker's 
name, which reads properly on the right side, but back- 
wards on the wrong. When the paper has been cut, 
so that the maker's name is no longer visible, it should be 
held in an oblique direction between the spectator and 
the Hght, when the right side may be known by certain 
little knots and protuberances on the surface; and the 

PAPER. 11 

wrong side by hollows where the knots are cut off; and 
as this side of the paper is not finished with the same 
perfection as the right side^ it would be hazardous to 
make a drawing of importance upon the wrong side of 
the paper. A mark should be made with a pencil on the 
comers of the right side of the paper^ before it is cut^ 
that it may be recognised again without the trouble of 
looking for it. 

Having selected a proper paper^ the next process is to 
stretch it for painting. The best stretching boards are^ 
either the common clamped drawing-board^ or simple deal 
frames^ which are much cheaper^ and for this reason it 
may sometimes be convenient to leave important drawings 
on the frame^ and have new ones for others. The common 
stretching boards^ with frames^ do not tighten the paper 
sufficiently^ which consequently " bags " when wet, to the 
serious discomfort and inconvenience of the painter. For 
better security, and in order to afford a firmer foundation 
for rubbing or washing out colours, it is advisable to cover 
the board, or frame, previously with cartridge-paper, and 
where this is not lai^ enough, with common calico. 

Some artists fix the paper to the boards with glue ; 
others use paste, or mouth-glue ; but for ordinary purposes, 
flour paste of a moderate consistency will be found most 
convenient. The cartridge-paper should be cut of such a 
size as to turn over the edges of the board, and fasten 

12 PAPER. 

well over on the back; for instance^ it should be at least 
two inches larger than the boards every way. It must 
then be thoroughly damped with a clean sponge on both 
sides^ and when quite smooth^ the board must be laid on 
it^ and the edges of the paper^ beyond the boards must be 
pasted with a paste-brushy and then turned carefully over 
the boards taking great care that the comers are well 
done. In order to stretch the paper properly, after having 
pasted one side, the superfluous piece in the comer should 
be dexterously torn out^ and then the opposite side should 
be pasted^ not that which is nearest in order. By follow- 
ing the plan here recommended, the paper will be stretched 
straight on the frame, and the comers will not be clumsy. 
When calico is intended to be used, it must be nailed 
upon the frame. As a carpenter is not always at hand, it"* 
is a great advantage to be able to nail on the calico one^s 
self. But there is a right way and a wrong way of doing 
this ; and as it is an operation of some importance to the 
drawing, inasmuch as the paper can never lie straight if 
the calico under it be not straight, we must devote a few 
words to describing the process. Suppose A and B the 
opposite sides of a square wooden frame ; C and D the 
other two sides. Begin by knocking a nail into the 
middle of side A, then stretch the calico tight and drive 
another into the middle of side B, opposite to it ; a third 
into the middle of side C, a fourth into the middle of side 

PAPER. 13 

D. Then drive a nail into the right-hand comer of sides 
A and C^ first drawing the calico tight towards the 
comer, then one into the opposite comer of sides B and 
D. Do the same on the other two sides, pinching up 
the caUco at the comers, and turning it neatly over one 
comer, fix it with a nail. Now halve the space between 
one comer and the centre of side A, and drive in a nail at 
the centre; then the opposite point of side B^ and so 
until you have driven in five nails on each side, always 
working from opposite points, in order to keep the calico 
straight and tight. Having done this, proceed to drive 
nails in the centre of each space, and its opposite point, 
until the calico is secured by a sufficient number of 

Having covered the boards with calico, or paper, next 
cut the drawing-paper which is to be strained on them ; 
and as the paper stretches by being wetted, the drawing- 
paper should be cut a little smaller than the board, for it 
is not at all necessary to turn the drawing-paper over the 
edges, indeed it is much better not to do so. Take care 
that every piece of paper, before it is cut, is marked so as 
to distinguish the right from the wrong side. Now damp 
thoroughly, and roll your paper, the right side inwards, 
and let it lie and soak. When damping the paper, use 
the sponge lightly, in order not to abrade the surface. To 
know when it is damp enough, turn up a comer; if it 


springs back^ it is not quite damp enough ; at the same 
time^ it must not be made so wet as to tear when 

While the paper is soaking^ paste very smoothly the 
surface of the strained cartridge-paper^ or calico^ on which 
place one end of your rolled paper^ and press it on with 
the damp sponge^ unrolling it gradually^ and pressing out 
all the air-bubbles, but not rubbing so hard as to spoil the 
surface. Let the boards dry gradually; if dried by a fire, 
they would pucker ; and remember to place them in a 
horizontal position, that they may not '' bag.'' The paper 
shrinks in drying ; and as the comers are disposed to dry 
first, they frequently curl up, unless prevented by putting 
weights on them. 

Leaden, or other metal weights, tied up in silk bags, are 
useful for this purpose. It will be at least twenty-four 
hours before the strained paper is sufficiently dry to draw 
upon. If drawn on before it is thoroughly dry, the pencil 
will make indentations in the soft paper. 


The colours used in portrait painting may be arranged 
under two classes, namely, those employed in painting 
flesh, and those adapted for draperies. 



Zinc White, caUed also Chinese White. 

Indian Yellow. 

Venetian, or light Red. 


Pink Madder, or Rose Madder. 

Indian Red. 

Brown Madder. 

Cobalt Blue. 


Vandyke Brown. 




Yellow Ochre. 

Burnt Sienna. 



French Ultramarine. 



Prussian Blue. 


Is prepared from the oxide of zinc. It has a good body, 


retains its colour perfectly, and works easily. In these 
properties it excels every other white pigment which has 
been hitherto tried as a water-colour. It is used but 
sparingly in painting portraits, being frequently limited 
to the white spots in the eyes, to the finishing of lace, 
gold ornaments, and other high lights. It is useful in 
correcting errors, as will be hereafter explained. 


Is of a brilliant golden yellow, useful for draperies. It 
gives a high gold tint when mixed with Chinese 
White. The fine colour of Indian Yellow causes it to 
be employed in painting flesh. 


Is of a fine yellow colour, inclining to green. It flows 
well, and the resin which it contains forms a kind of 
natural varnish, which aids in preserving its colour. 


Is useful for the local tint of light hair, and for certain 
parts of landscape backgrounds. It is very permanent 
and works well. 



Serves for the middle tints of amber-coloured draperies ; 
it is a useful colour for the greens in landscape back- 
grounds, and forms with Indigo * an excellent colour for 
green backgrounds. 


A bituminous earth of a rich and very transparent 
brown ; a valuable colour, but which has the bad pro- 
perty of working up. For this reason, where it is 
necessary to lay a great body of it, the moist tube 
colour should be preferred to the cake. Vandyke Brown 
forms with Lake a fine warm transparent tint, which is 
much used as a warm shadow colour. 


Is a cooler colour than Vandyke Brown. Mixed with 
Indigo it is used for distant trees, for a general shadow 
tint for light backgrounds, and for the shade of white 
linen and white draperies. With Lake it forms a fine 
tint somewhat resembling Brown Madder, and with Lake 
and Indigo it makes an excellent black. It is trans- 
parent and permanent, and works welL 



Is of a rich transparent russet brown. It forms a soft 
shadow colour with Blue ; alone it may be used to lower 
red curtains or draperies, and for the darkest touches in 


Is a fine colour, but not very permanent, and is employed 
only in draperies. It will be more durable if covered 
with a coat of Gamboge, but in this case it changes 
from crimson to scarlet. 


This colour is of a brilliant deep-toned crimson, pos- 
sessing great power in its full touches and much clear- 
ness in its pale washes. It is somewhat more fugitive 
than Lake. A good way of using this colour is to 
procure it in powder, and after putting a small portion 
into a saucer, pour on it a little liquor of ammonia or 
good hartshorn. The ammonia dissolves the Carmine 
turning it nearly black, but it shortly after assumes a fine 
red colour. It should not be used in flesh. 


yhe colours prepared from madder are among the most 


delicate and permanent of vegetable colours. Pink 
Madder is used for the carnation tints in fleshy and 
for pink draperies. 


A deeper tint of the same kind as Pink Madder, for 
which it may be used. 


Is a serviceable colour for general purposes ; its tints, 
though not bright, are clear, and are very permanent. 
This pigment is valuable as a general tint for flesh. 


A clear and transparent, low-toned red, similar in cha- 
racter to Venetian Red, with somewhat more of an orange 


Is of a purplish red colour. It makes an excellent shadow 
colour for flesh, both alone and mixed with blue. 


This colour, mixed with Pink Madder, affords a fine 
tint for the carnations of flesh. 

c 2 



Is of a fine sky blue colour^ and the best blue pig- 
ment for producing the silvery tints on flesh in paint- 
ing in water-colours. Alone, it forms the blue tints, and 
with Indian Red, the shadow-colour for flesh. It works 
well and is permanent. By artificial light it assumes a 
purplish tint, which, however, is not perceptible in the 


A fin€ blue colour resembling Ultramarine,, which by 
artificial light acquires a pui*ple tint. It is used in 


A vitrified pigment prepared from Cobalt^ of a deep 
purple blue, used sometimes for shading other blues. 
It works badly, and must be stippled, not washed. It 
appears of a red purple by artificial light. 


A vegetable pigment of a deep greenish blue. It 
washes and works well, and is a useful colour for back- 
grounds, and with Sepia makes a retiring green for dis- 
tant trees, &c. 



A fine intense colour. It may be used as a shadow colour 
with' Lake for some kiBds of purple draperies. 


The brushes for painting flesh should be sables of 
moderate size^ and rather large than small. They should 
spring well when pressed with the finger^ and should ter- 
minate in a good point. For hatchings a pointed brush 
is not necessary ; in fact^ it is a disadvantage : a red 
sable brushy the point of which is worn off^ is best adapted 
for this purpose. It should be held as far &om the point 
as possible^ between the first finger and thumb (the middle 
finger being under it)^ and in such a manner as to allow 
the free movement of the wrist and arm. The painter 
should study to acquire a full and firm touch of the brush j 
and not work upon the point of it. It is better to use an 
easel^ and^ if necessary^ to rest the hand upon a mahl- 
stick. This position is not only more healthy^ but it 
enables the painter to see more of his work. 


In painting a vignette portrait of a head and shoulders^ 


or one with an ordinary background^ three sittings are 
generally sufficient. The first sitting commences with 
the drawings and finishes conveniently with the first wash 
of flesh tint ; the hatching can be done in the absenee of 
the sitter^ when the background (if the portrait is to have 
one) can also be worked in. 

In the second sitting the shadows of the face which 
give roundness^ the colour in the cheeks^ the hair^ and 
the figure will be forwarded^ and the principal folds of the 
drapery marked in from the sitter^ and the masses of light 
and shade indicated. In the interval between the second 
and third sittings the tints of the flesh may be softened; 
but until the painter has attained some proficiency^ nothing 
should be added to the flesh in the absence of the sitter. 
The drapery may be completed either from a lay figure^ 
or from the clothes of the sitter, borrowed for that purpose. 

The third sitting is occupied chiefly in finishing, soften- 
ing, and correcting the likeness. 

Lay figures may be had of various sizes from six inches 
high to life size. For ordinary purposes, a German lay 
figure from twenty-four inches to thirty-six inches will be 
found very useful. Wilkie made use of figures about two 
feet high, which he clothed, and from which he drew his 
drapery; and as the drapery of these figures contained 
but few folds, he obtained simplicity and breadth. 



Before commencing a portrait^ it will be necofisary to 
view the face of the sitter in various positions^ in order to 
ascertain that in which it is most agreeable and charac- 
teristic. Where the features are very prominent^ a full 
face will frequently be found most pleasing^ because in 
this case the features are less strongly defined. With 
regard to the three-quarter view^ it may be remarked that 
this position is most frequently selected^ because it com- 
bines in some degree the profile and the full face. Some 
care is, however, necessary in determining which three- 
quarter view (namely, that which turns towards the right, 
or that which turns towards the left), presents the face of 
the sitter in the most favourable aspect ; for, besides the 
difference in the shadow of the nose, it is found that few 
persons possess both sides of the face exactly alike, con- 
sequently in one position they will look better than in 
another. Profiles are seldom selected in portraiture, 
although they are sometimes very characteristic. 

The position of the head with regard to the body is 
another point to be considered. When the head is turned 
in one direction and the body in another, the position is 
more graceful; but where the head and body are both 
turned in the same direction, the attitude is more simple. 


It must be left to the judgment of the painter to select 
that position which is best adapted to the sex^ age^ and 
character of the sitter, all of which must enter into the 
calculation of the artist. 

The introduction of the hands and arms contributes 
much to the beauty of the picture. They should be 
elegant in form, for it is not necessary in all cases to copy 
them from the sitter; and it should be a rule with the 
young painter, as it was with Raffaele^ to show both hands^ 
that it should never become a question what was become 
of the other. 


Costume is another point of great importance. From the 
ever-varying and endless caprice of fashion, that arrange- 
ment and form of dress to which we are accustomed at 
the present day, will look preposterous and absurd twenty 
years hence, or even sooner. Within the last thirty years 
we have passed through all the phases of large bonnets 
and small bonnets, of long waists and short waists, of 
wide sleeves and tight sleeves ; and the present generation 
laugh at the odd figures of their grandmothers as handed 
down by the portrait painter, while future generations will 
ridicule the costume of the present, not because it is more 
ridiculous than their own, but because the eye is unaccus- 
tomed to it. 


That is unquestionably the best dress which, while it 
gracefully indicates, but does not display, the form of the 
sitter, is so general as to carry no date, and to be never 
entirely out of fashion, and which is not overloaded with 
ornament. It would generally be preferable to leave the 
arrangement of the dress in a great measure to the taste 
and selection of the painter, or at least to allow him to 
give an opinion on the subject. There is a story, for 
the truth of which we will not vouch, that a lady whose 
husband had more money than taste, went to Sir Joshua 
Reynolds to have her own portrait and that of her hus- 
band painted. The lady inquired which were the most 
expensive colours. Sir Joshua replied, Ultramarine and 
Carmine. " Then,^' rejoined the lady, " I will be dressed 
in Ultramarine, and my husband in Carmine.^' With 
the present knowledge of art that pervades the wealthy 
classes, the painter will not frequently have to encounter 
strong contrasts of glaring colours ; but as he will have 
to treat coloured draperies, it may not be amiss to refer to 
some of the pictures of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Van- 
dyck, in order to show their arrangement of colours. 

It may, however, first be observed, that it appears to 
have been a general rule with Vandyck, Rubens, Rem- 
brandt, Velasquez, Murillo, Correggio, and other great 
painters, to place white next the skins of women and 
children. Sir Joshua was fond of dressing his figures of 


ladies and children in white muslin dresses^ or in light 
drapery of a warm neutral tint. He appears to have re- 
served his strong colours for the portraits of men, who 
in his day wore more lively colours than they do at the 
present time. 

Generally speakings Vandyck introduced more positive 
colour into his pictures than Reynolds. He frequently 
employed the three primitives. Red, Blue and Yellow, and 
the tertiary neutrals (browns and drabs). Green and 
purple are of less frequent occurrence, but he has some 
splendid orange-coloured draperies, which he heightened 
until they approached scarlet, and which he contrasted 
with blue. 

Blue is a favourite colour with ladies, but the arrange- 
ment of such a mass of cold colour is a matter of some 
difficulty with the young painter. Sir Joshua says, that 
the masses of light in a picture should be of the warm 
and mellow kind, such as reds and yellows. To disprove 
this opinion, Gainsborough painted his celebrated picture 
in the Grosvenor Gallery, which is known by the name of 
the ^^ Blue Boy.'' It is a full-length picture of a boy in 
a blue satin dress, surrounded by warm and rich browns. 
By some artists, he is considered to have successfully 
refuted Sir Joshua's proposition; but Sir T. Lawrence 
considers that he succeeded only partially — ^that the diffi- 
culty was combated, not surmounted. 


It will be useful, then, to ascertain how Vandyck 
treated this colour when he was required to introduce it 
into drapery. He placed linen next the skin, contrasted 
the blue with warm browns, and generally introduced 
into the same picture a red or amber-coloured curtain, 
and an arm-chair, or another drapery of the third primi- 
tive colour ; and so he maintained an equilibrium of warm 
and cold colours, harmonizing the whole with warm browns 
and greys. He also frequently introduced a drab scarf 
on the neck of his figures, probably with a view of giving 
value to the flesh tints. 

Rembrandt was fond of black draperies, which enabled 
him to concentrate the light on the upper part of the 


With regard to the arrangement of the light, the 
window by which light is admitted into the studio of the 
painter should be at least six feet from the ground, in 
order to throw the shadows downwards.* A movable 
shutter, sliding up and down by a pulley, can be easily 
affixed, and will be found very convenient. The light 

* The window of Sir Joshua's room was nine feet four inches from the 


should be suffered to fall on the face of the sitter in such 
a direction as to secure the greatest breadth of effect. If 
he be placed directly on one side^ and the face be turned 
towards the light, the shadow of the nose must be very 
strong, in order to give it due prominence : in that case^ 
a dark background is necessary to give tenderness to the 
shadows of the face. This arrangement is sometimes 
found in good pictures ; but, generally speaking, one of 
the first-mentioned positions is selected. It is almost 
unnecessary to observe that the painter should sit so that 
the light should enter on the left hand. 


A correct outline is of the first importance, since it is 
the foundation of the picture ; no trouble therefore 
should be considered too great to secure it. 

In order to avoid soiling the paper by rubbing out 
incorrect lines, it is better to make a correct outUne on 
another piece of paper, and then trace it on the strained 
paper. We shall first give a few directions for drawing a 
head, and then shall describe the mode of tracing it on 
the drawing-paper : 

First, draw a line to mark the inclination of the head. 
If a full face is to be drawn, the line will be straight ; if 
it be a three-quarter face, it will be a little curved. Then 


draw a line, cutting the first exactly at right angles, on 
which the eyes are t9 be placed* Sketch lightly another 
line or two below this for the nose, mouth, and chin. 
This rule cannot be too strongly impressed upon the 
student, who would not wish to see one eye higher than 
the other ; or the mouth and nose awry. On these lines 
block out the features, marking them very square; and be 
careful to place them in their true positions, and in just 
proportions. Having got in the general form, go over 
the drawing carefully, giving every feature its true form 
and expression. 

The drawing being finished, hold it before a looking- 
glass, when, from the position being reversed, bad drawing 
will be easily detected. When you are satisfied with the 
correctness of your outline, lay over it a piece of good 
French tracing-paper,* and mark over the outline with a 
brush dipped in water-colour. Next, take a piece of 
tissue-paper, and rub over it a little charcoal, or red ochre, 
in powder. Place the tracing carefully on the strained 
paper, and fix the upper comers by placing the leaden 
weights on them ; then, without disturbing the tracing, 
slide the tissue-paper with the coloured side downwards 
under the tracing-paper, and pass over the outline with an 

* Excellent tracing-paper, of very large size, may now be procured at 
sixpence a sheet. 


ivory, agate, or ebony style, lifting carefully the lower 
corners now and then to see that •every line has been 
marked. The style must be used with sufficient firmness 
to leave a mark, but not so as to indent the drawing- 
paper. A small piece of coloured tissue-paper will be 
sufficient, as it may be moved without disturbing the 
tracing; indeed it ought to be smaller than the tracings 
in order to be introduced between the leaden weights. 
When the coloured paper is done with, fold it together, to 
prevent the colour from rubbing off on other drawings. 
It will serve many times. 

The outline being transferred to the drawing-paper, it 
must be strengthened and corrected lightly with a pencil, 
beginning first at the lower-right hand comer, in order 
that the hand may not efface the impression of the tracing; 
for the marks left by the red ochre, or charcoal, are so 
light that the slightest touch will efface them. Having 
then secured the outline, remove the red ochre, or char- 
coal, by flapping the paper lightly with a handkerchief. 

The drawing is now ready for colouring. 

The method of tracing outlines has been described at 
length, because it is wished to impress on the student the 
importance of keeping the drawing-paper clean; and 
because it is well known the great masters were accus- 
tomed to adopt a similar process of transferring their 
designs to the wall or canvas. It should at the same 


time be understood^ that it is strongly recommended 
that students should make their own drawings in the first 
instance^ and not be contented with servilely tracing the 
outlines of the pictures they are copying. 

Where a drawing is intended to be copied on a different 
scale^ it may be reduced by various methods : either by 
dividing the surface of the picture and of the space on 
which it is to be copied^ into an equal number of squares^ 
and then copying into each square what is contained in 
the corresponding square of the original ; or the picture 
may be reduced in a certain proportion by means of pro- 
portional compasses; and where a head only is to be 
copied, the latter method is certainly preferable. It is 
recommended, however, to draw by the guidance of the 
eye, and to have recourse to the mechanical methods only 
as a means of verifying the correctness of the drawing. 


Painting in water-colours is a totally different process 
from painting in oil. In oil-painting the lights are opaque, 
while transparency is preserved in the shades by passing 
one layer of colour over another which has been suffered 
to dry before the new coat is applied, and by this means 
the under colours are seen through the upper layer, and 
depth is attained as well as transparency. In water- 


colour painting the colours (except White, which is com- 
paratively little used) all possess more or less transparency ; 
but as they are not attached to the ground with the same 
firmness as oil-colours, transparency and depth cannot 
always be attained by washing one colour over another, for 
the gum which bound the first layer of colours would be 
dissolved, and the colours would mix together. If, for 
instance, in oil painting, Blue, Red and Yellow, be laid 
one over the other, and the under colours sufiered to dry, 
a compound tint will be produced which partakes of all 
three colours. If the order of the colours be changed, 
and either Blue or Bed be the upper layer of colour, the 
effect of the compound tint will be different from the first, 
in which the upper colour was Yellow ; if, on the con- 
trary, in water-colours, the same three colours. Blue, Red 
and Yellow, be washed one over the other, the colours 
unite instead of remaining distinct, and blackness, or at 
least darkness, will be the result. In order, therefore, 
to attain the depth and transparency of oil-colours, the 
painter in water-colours is obliged to have recourse to the 
somewhat tedious expedient of hatching or stippling the 
three colours separately, and so producing the desired 
compound tint. The primitive colours so applied will 
always be more brilliant than the same colours previously 
mixed together into tints. 

Rubens, our own Hogarth and Sir Joshua Reynolds, 


and other good colourists, were in the habit of working 
with the three primitive colours instead of compounding 
their tints. The directions of Rubens to his pupils with 
regard to the painting of flesh, have been transmitted to 
us by the Chevalier Mechel. The great artist is reported 
to have said : " Paint your lights IVhite, place next to it 
Yellow, then Red, using dark Red as it passes into the 
shadow; then with a brush dipped in cool Grey pass 
gentlyover the whole, till they are tempered and sweetened 
to the tone you wish/' These remarks, of course, apply 
to oil painting, but the principle is the same in every kind 
of painting. It will be seen presently how far this prin- 
ciple is borne out in the following directions for painting 
in water-colour. 

Stippling consists in working on* the part to-be painted 
with fine dots with the point of the brush. Hatching is 
the same kind of work, but it is executed with lines in- 
stead of points. There are different methods of hatch- 
ing, and probably every artist has his own peculiar 
mode. After trying several, the following method is 

First work over the space to be covered with the colour 
with short, wide, and regular horizontal strokes, worked 
firmly in rows from the top downwards, so as not to leave 
little blots at the ends of the strokes. The best way of 
avoiding these little blots, is t6 press firmly on the brush 



at the beginnings and carry it on to the end of the stroke^ 
and not to begin lightly and end by a firm pressure. 
Having hatched the strokes evenly one way^ cross them 
slightly with the same firm touchy and avoid crossing 
them at right angles^ or with lines that are too oblique. 

This method of hatching produces a very light and 
mellow effect. 

The hatching should be tolerably open^ but not too 
much so. 

The effect of hatching on the shadows is to give depths 
and enable the spectator to look into them^ an effect which 
is never attained by flat washes of colour. 

There is one rule which cannot be too firmly impressed 
on the student^ namely^ that in water-colour painting the 
first colours should alWays be bright and pure^ because 
they may easily be lowered to the desired tone ; but if their 
purity is once sullied by admixture with other colours^ 
their brightness can> never be recovered. 


If the face were an entirely flat surface^ in which the 
features occasioned neither projections nor depressions^ 
nothing more would be necessary in painting a represen- 
tation of it, than to cover it with a uniform flat tint of 
flesh colour. But as there is scarcely any part of it which 



is perfectly flat^ the gradations of light and shade are in- 
numerable. These gradations of light and shade claim 
the earnest attention of the student^ and are, perhaps, 
best learned from a plaster cast, where they are separated 
from colour.* The following general maxims relative to 
the aerial perspective of figures should be well under- 
stood by the student before he proceeds further with the 

Nature relieves one object from another by means of 
light and shade, and we find everywhere light opposed to 
dark, and dark to light. 

The shadows of objects in the open air are less dark 
than those within doors, because the former are lighted up 
by the reflections of the sky and all the surrounding ob- 
jects, while within doors the light is limited, and reflections 
are less apparent. 

The colour of most objects is best discerned in the 
middle tints; strong colours are reserved for the parts 
nearest the eye ; receding objects are more faint in colour 
than those near the eye. Lights are less affected by 
distance than shadows, which grow paler as the distance 

The highest lights have generally but little colour, for 
all colour is a deprivation of light. 

* It is a good plan always to keep a white bust at hand as a guide 
to the light and shade. 

n 2 


All retiring parts partake more or less of grey. 

Strong shadows should be warm^ those of flesh (which 
is semi-transparent) always incline to red. 

All the shadows of flesh must have grey edges. This 
prevents hardness, and gives great richness. 

The reflected lights of flesh are warmer than the sur- 
rounding parts. 

The darkest parts of shadows are near their edge^ the 
middle being lighted by reflected lights. 


To set the palette for painting flesh, place these colours 
in the following order : 

Indian Yellow. 
Venetian Red. 
Pink Madder. 
Brown Madder. 
Indian Red. 
Cobalt Blue. 

These colours are sometimes used pure, and sometimes 
different tints are formed of them, namely, Indian Yellow 
and Venetian Red for the flesh colour, VermilUon and 
Fink Madder for the carnations. Fink Madder and Brown 


Madder for the markings of the lips and nostrils^ Indian 
Red and Blue for the shadow colour^ Blue and Yellow for 
the green tints^ all of which may be mixed when required. 
A small palette is most convenient for painting the fleshy 
and should be set apart for this purpose; the middle being 
kept clean for mixing the tints ; for much depends upon 
preserving the colours clean and bright. 


We shall divide the process of painting into three parts^ 
the first of which consists of the outline and dead colour- 
ings the second of the paintings the third of the finishing. 

The preceding axioms being well understood, we pro- 
ceed now to give directions for painting the head of a 
fair person. 

Having carefully drawn the figure, rub it lightly with 
bread or Indian-rubber, so as to leave only a faint outline, 
which will not interfere with the colours, then make a firm 
outline with the brush, laying the proper colours upon every 
part, and as near as possible in the full strength at once, 
carefully copying the forms and improving the drawing. 
For example, put in the pupil of the eye with Sepia (if so 
it happen to be), the iris with Cobalt, lowered with Sepia 
for a grey or blue eye, or Vandyke Brown for a dark eye; 
the eyelashes are marked with Sepia, and the eyebrows 


indicated with the same. If the outline of the nose be in 
shadow^ it may be marked out with Brown Madder; the 
ear may also be outlined with the same colour, the nostrils 
with Brown Madder and Fink Madder, the deep shadows 
of the mouth with the same tint. The most important 
and characteristic shadows of the face should then be put 
in, and as near as possible to their full strength, with the 
general shadow colour, which is composed of Indian Bed, 
lowered with Cobalt, but not to such an extent as to acquire 
a slaty tint. This mixture of Cobalt and Indian Bed forms 
a beautiful clean colour for the shadows. The important 
shadows are in the sockets of the eyes, on the lower part 
of the nose and below it, beneath the chin, and below or 
behind the ear. These shadows are to be partly washed, 
partly hatched. Then put in the blue shadow under the 
lower lip with Cobalt. 

The lips are next to be coloured with Vermillion and 
Fmk Madder. This colour should be stippled on, and 
the lights in the lips may either be left or taken out 
afterwards. The whole of the face (except the eyes) is 
then to be washed over with a light tint of Venetian 
Bed. While this is drying, outline with Sepia the prin- 
cipal divisions and locks of the hair, beginning with the 
darkest and most decided forms, until the whole of the 
hair is well made out with touches of proper strength. 
White linen next the skin may then be outlined with 


a tint made of Cobalt and Sepia^ and all other objects 
are to be outlined with their real colours^ beginning as 
before with the decided tones and touches which give form 
to the object. 

We have then an accurate and coloured outline^ in which 
the principal shadows are indicated. It is in vain to attempt 
to complete the picture with shadows and colour^ if these 
preliminary steps are defective. If this part of the work 
be well executed^ the resemblance and general effect are 
secured at the commencement of the work. 

The Venetian Red tint on the face being now dry, 
hatch the whole face with the same colour, using it thin 
and flowing, and beginning on the forehead, and directing 
the short strokes as nearly as possible in such a manner as 
to give to this part the round appearance which it has in 
nature. Having hatched once over the face, cross the 
hatching by going over it again ; but take care that the 
strokes are but little crossed, and especially not at right 
angles. It is to be understood now, once for aU, that in 
painting flesh, all the colours, with the exception of the 
first wash of Venetian Bed, are to be hatched in the 
manner recommended (p. 33), and not washed. Some 
portraits, especially those of men, require a light tint of 
Indian Bed to be hatched over the lower part of the 
face upon the Venetian Bed. 



Proceed now to put in the shadow on the forehead with 
Indian Red^ keeping strictly to the form, llien the dark 
shadow in the socket of the eye with the shadow tint of 
Indian Red and Cobalt^ working on the edges of the 
shadow with pore Cobalt^ and preserving accorately the 
form of the shadows. Mark the edge of the upper eyelid 
with Indian Red. 

Remember, as a general rale, that the edges of all 
shadows must be grey. In order to be satisfied that this 
rule is founded on nature, lay a piece of card or a pencil oa 
white paper, and observe the dark shadow with the grey 
edge beyond it. This grey edge is less perceptible by 
artificial light than by daylight. 

Next work the colour on the cheek, which is composed 
of Vermillion and Pink Madder, observing the gradations 
of colour and light on the cheek-bones ; stipple the edges 
of the colour near the nose, bring the colour well up to 
the temple, and diffuse it over the cheek towards the ear, 
and a little on the chin. This done, deepen the extreme 
shadows where they require it. Then hatch over the 
shaded part of the forehead with Blue, making it bluer at 
the retiring edge, carry the Blue down the nose if neces- 
sary. It will be obsen-ed that in shading the forehead^ the 
red shades were placed first, and the blue above them. 


The reason for so doing is^ because it is found that if the 
red shadows are laid below the blue^ the colours will look 
clean and bright^ but if the blue is first laid the effect will 
be dirty. We shall notice hereafter that this practice is in 
accordance with the principle of Rubens. 

Now work a cool green tint, composed of Cobalt and 
Indian Yellow, over the socket of the eye : this part should 
be stippled, not hatched. Work blue over the shadow at the 
edge of the lower jaw, observing the true form and depth of 
the tint, and especially marking the angle of the lower jaw. 
Put in the blue shadow on the temples. Soften the edge 
of all shadows by stippling on them. 

In the process of working, white spots are frequently 
left : these must be filled with the proper colours. It is 
better, indeed, to look frequently at the painting while in 
progress, and fill up these white spots as they are dis- 
covered. Sometimes the hatching will appear too wiry, in 
which case wash it several times with a clean brush dipped 
in water, in order to blend the tints. It may also happen 
that the tint is worked in too dark. In this case, hatch 
with a clean brush dipped in water, only without colour, 
and remove the loosened colour by rubbing it gently with 
a soft old handkerchief. 

It is now time that the background should be painted, 
because this must determine the depth of colour to be given 
to the face and hair. 


The subject of backgrounds will be treated more fuUy in 
another place. It will now be only necessary to observe 
that a very agreeable green background may be made of 
Indigo and Burnt Sienna^ of Indigo and Sepia^ or of Indigo 
and Vandyke Brown. This should be washed on, and the 
gradations of light and shade duly indicated by a deeper or 
lighter colour ; then the surface is to be evened by touches 
which are half hatching and half washing. The work should 
be broad (that is, not too .fine) on the background, but 
should be finer as it approaches the face. Then wash over 
the dress, and put the shades into the linen with Sepia and 

Next hatch a light tint of blue over the lower and 
retiring part of the cheek, then put in the blue shadow 
below and at the comer of the under lip, keeping its 
form well defined, and unite it gradually with the blue 
shade of the jaw. Then a blue tint under the nose, 
and a little of the shadow colour on the wing of the 
nostril. Soften the edge of the chin, and round it with 
the shadow colour. 

Now put in the warm colour imder the chin with a tint 
composed of Venetian Red and Indian Yellow, which is 
sometimes called the flesh colour. Work a little of the 
same tint on the dark shadow in the sockets of the eyes. 
Soften the shaded side of the iris with the shadow colour, 
finish the lips by stippling them with Vermillion and 


Pink Madder^ and observe that the more distant part is 
less vivid in colour. The principal work at this period of 
the painting consists in softening the tints by working on 
their edges. 

Having advanced the painting of the flesh thus far^ 
proceed next with the hair^ by strengthening the extreme 
shades with Sepia. 

The difficulty of painting hair consists not so much in 
the colouring as in the drawings for so the continual touches 
which give the form and flow of the hair may properly be 
termed ; and to this point the attention of the student 
must be continually directed. We will first give directions 
for painting brown hair. For the local tint use Vandyke 
Brown and Sepia^ and with this work on the next deepest 
shades with a touch that is neither too wiry and defined, 
nor too washy; then go on with the next deepest shades^ 
and so on^ retouching and strengthening, when necessary, 
the extreme darks, and leaving the lights, which must be 
gradually covered with light touches, giving them the form 
of hair, imtil even the extreme lights are covered with a light 
tint of this local colour, taking no notice for the present of 
the blue tint perceptible on or near the lights. These high 
lights are afterwards to be taken out. When the local 
colour is not sufficiently warm, apply the flesh tint, com- 
posed of Venetian Bed and Indian Yellow. 

Should it be desired to paint dark or black hair, proceed 


in the same manner^ using Sepia only instead of Vandyke 
Brown and Sepia^ adding for the extreme darks a little 
warm black (composed of Sepia^ Lake^ and Indigo). 
And remember that in black and dark hair the lights are 
cold and blueish^ and that there is always a warm tint 
between the lights and the extreme darks. 

For flaxen hair, begin as before with Sepia, of a proper 
degree of strength ; the next darkest tints are composed of 
Vandyke Brown with or without Sepia, then the flesh 
colour (Venetian Red and Indian Yellow). The local 
colour is either Yellow Ochre or a tint formed of Indian 
Yellow and Venetian Red, which, from being more trans- 
parent, is perhaps preferable. The high lights of flaxen 
hair are yellow, and there is a cool grey tint between the 
lights and the shadows. In all cases the high lights of 
hair are taken out afterwards, when the tints already 
described are quite dry ; and to allow time for this, it is 
usual to leave the hair in this state, and go on with the 
neck, arms, and hands, when they are visible. 

Be careful to introduce shadows or grey tints between 
the flesh and the hair, and to soften the extremities and 
outlines of the hair where it meets the background, that it 
may not appear inlaid. 

The colour on the shaded side of the neck is Indian Red 
and Blue, on the light side Blue only. The green tint on 
the neck is to be given with the flesh colour (Venetian Red 


and Indian Yellow). Proceed in the same manner with 
the arms and hands^ nsing^ however^ Indian Bed alone for 
the first tints^ in the same manner as on the forehead^ 
then working over them, when necessary, with Blue, 
observing the reflected lights, which are always warm. 
The divisions of the fingers may be painted with Brown 
Madder and Pink Madder. The tips of the fingers, the 
knuckles, and the outside of the hands, are more rosy 
than the other parts, and require to be hatched with the 
carnation tint of Madder and Vermillion. 

Next, wash over the white linen with a general middle 
tint, without regarding the high lights, which are to be 
taken out afterwards. Wash a local colour also over the 
drapery, covering even the high lights. 


The whole of the paper is now covered with a tint, 
more or less dark, and a general harmony should pervade 
the whole picture ; in which, however, a few sharp high 
lights are still wanting to give finish and solidity. But 
before proceeding to execute this, examine your work 
carefully, make the forms very perfect, and beginning at 
the upper part of the picture — the eye, for instance — ^finish 
as you go. Observe that the darkest parts of shadows 
are near their edges, the middle parts being lighted by 


reflected lights. If the shade tint above the eye is too 
purple^ correct it with green. (The green tint^ it will be 
remembered^ is composed of Blue and a very little Indian 
Yellow.) Should this tint be found too green, use instead 
of it the flesh colour. Lower the blue tint of the iris 
with Sepia and Cobalt ; the white of the eye with the same. 
If the eye is of a greenish tint, warm the grey with the 
flesh colour. Make the eyelashes with Sepia, broad, like 
a shadow, not divided into hairs. There is sometimes a 
brown shadow under the eyelashes when the face is seen 
nearly in profile ; this is to be done with Vandyke Brown. 
The principal light on a face is generally on the forehead ; 
this light may now be taken out.* 

Soften and round every part that requires it. Bemem- 
ber that shadows indicate the form, therefore make your 
strong shadows very full in colour and accurate in form, 
sharply defined and warm in colour ; and let every shadow 
have a blue edge. Keep your half tints broad and very 
cool. If your shadows are too purple, neutralize them 
with green ; if too green, work on them with purple; if 
too blue, hatch them with orange (Venetian Bed and 
Yellow.) Where the tints are decidedly green. Blue and 
Yellow may be used, where they are less decided use the 
flesh tint, or even Venetian Bed alone, where the flesh 
tint would be too green. Make all retiring and rounded 

* The method of taking out lights will be described in another place. 


parts grey. Finish the comers of the mouth with a line 
or two of the shadow colour^ softening the edge with Blue. 
There is also a little blue shade at the comers of the 
lips. The deep shadow under the chin has a little Sepia 
with it. The edge of the shadow on the forehead is 
greenish. In painting the ear^ which is semi-transparent, 
let the shadows be warm and inclined to red. Soften 
every part of your work, and if the hatching is too wiry 
work on it with a brush dipped in plain water, and wipe 
it with a soft handkerchief. 

The process of painting a head from the first outline on 
the paper, until its completion, has thus been described. 
It remains now to point out how far the instructions of 
Bubens, quoted in a former part of the work (p. 33) 
have been followed, and it is wished at the same time to 
call the attention of the student to the principle upon 
which this system of colouring is based. The high light 
on the forehead uniting with the general flesh tint of 
Venetian Bed, and thence spreading into Indian Bed in 
the shadows, corresponds as far as it is possible for water- 
colours to do, with the order observed by Bubens ; namely, 
white, yellow, and pale red tints, increasing in the 
shadows to dark red. The blue tint with which the 
greater part of the flesh is toned, and which being worked 
over red produces the effect of grey in the method we 
have described, corresponds nearly with the " cool grey 


tint^^ with which Bubens hannonized the whole of the 

It wiU be seen that the various tints of the flesh have 
been imitated chiefly with the three primitive colours^ — 
Bed of difierent tints^ Blue and Yellow ; and there is no 
doubt that although for convenience we make use of dif- 
ferent kinds of red (namely^ Venetian and Indian Beds, 
Pink Madder, and Vermillion,) it would be very prac- 
ticable to produce an equally good effect by using only 
pure Bed, Yellow, and Blue. This last method, it is true, 
requires considerable skill in colouring and compounding 
the tints; and as Nature has furnished us with trust- 
worthy pigments of various useful tints, it is much easier 
and more convenient to make use of them, than to limit 
ourselves to the three primitive colours. 

It frequently happens that when the drawing is seen 
with the light entering on the left hand, as is usual in 
painting, that the hatching appears soft and even ; but 
that when seen in an opposite direction, it looks rough 
and wiry ; for this reason it is advisable to place the draw- 
ing in different lights, and work on it until it is perfectly 
smooth and even, taking care not to deepen the colours. 
This is easily avoided by working between the hatching. 
It will occasionally happen that the paper, although very 
pleasant to work upon, is too rough to allow of very deli- 
cate finish. In this case lay a piece of tissue-paper upon 


tlie face, and rub it with some round object hard and 
polished^ such as a child's ivory ring, or the handle of a 
key. If the paper has been stretched on a frame it will 
be necessary to place something hard and smooth (a piece 
of plate-glass, for instance) carefully at the back, under 
the part to be rubbed, in order to avoid injuring the 
drawing or tearing the paper. Continue the rubbing 
until on feeling it with the finger the surface is foimd to 
be quite smooth. You may then work it to any degree 
of finish, and may repeat the rubbing, if necessary. 

It may perhaps be thought unnecessary to cover up 
lights, which are afterwards to be taken out ; but it is 
universally acknowledged that lights produced by the 
latter method are much more efiective than those which 
are left during the painting. The mode of taking out 
lights is as follows : Mark out their form accurately with 
a clean brush dipped in water only, then rub them 
smartly, but with a horizontal and light movement of the 
hand, with crumb of bread or a soft piece of rag. A 
circular movement of the hand would abrade the surface 
of the drawing, but the horizontal movement does not 
injure it. The longer time, in moderation — for instance, 
while you can count eight or ten — ^that is suflfered to 
elapse before wiping out the Ught, the stronger the light 
will be ; if the bread or rag is applied immediately, the 
light will be less bright. The bread used for this purpose 



should be moderately stsJe^ and where it is in frequent 
use it may be kept in working condition by wrapping it 
in a damp rag. 

If the outline of any part is too hard or cuttings soften 
it by working upon the edges with the adjacent colours^ 
for there are no outlines in Nature, and particularly in 
fleshy where every part is round and soft. 

The spot of light in the eye is put in with Chinese 
(zinc) White. The best method of applying this is to 
hold the tube in your left hand^ and dip a finely pointed 
brush into it. 

As water-colours dry without gloss^ it is sometimes 
necessary to gum the extreme shades^ in order to give 
them depth. But the gum must not be applied until the 
painting is finished. It is sometimes used on the back- 
ground, where it may either be mixed with colour or 
worked on alone. The strongest gum-water that is ever 
necessary in painting consists of one part of gum and 
seven parts of filtered rain or distilled water, but it may 
be used much weaker. The less gum that is used the 

The foregoing directions relate, as has been already 
mentioned to the head of a fair person; but if the 
instructions have been carefully attended to, the student 
will have but little difficulty in painting any complexions. 
It may however be observed, that the shadows and half 


tints of some persons incline to green, those of others to 
purple. Dark persons have always more yellow in their 
complexions than fair ones, and their shadows will con- 
sequently be greener. In some complexions it will be 
necessary to work a reddish tint composed either of Vene- 
tian Bed and Indian Yellow, or of Vermillion and Pink 
Madder over some parts of the face ; the eye will be the 
best guide in this respect. 

In making copies in water-colours of paintings by the 
old masters and Sir Joshua B.eynolds, some artists are 
accustomed to lay body colour on t^ie lights in order to 
produce a closer resemblance to the original. The best 
mode of doing this is to lay on pure White, in the form 
of the lights, and when dry, to pass over it lightly and 
quickly a transparent tint, which will match the colour of 
the original. Care must, however, be taken not to dis- 
turb the white paint, for this would mix with the upper 
layer of colour, and produce a muddy tint. 

White paint is also useful for putting on different white 
lights, such as the pattern of lace, pearls and gold orna- 
ments (which last must be afterwards glazed with some 
transparent colour), but it must be used sparingly, and 
may be glazed or toned down to any tint. 

It is also useful in making corrections or alterations, 
where it would be inconvenient to wash out the part. In 
this case the White is laid on so thickly as to cover what 

E 2 


is beneath^ and when quite dry^ the necessary colours are 
to be painted over it. 


Draperies are to be painted in the same manner as the 
hair^ beginning first with the large folds which give shape 
to the masses^ then the folds of the next size^ and then 
the local colour, leaving the lights which are to be but 
thinly covered with colour. When quite dry, the high 
lights are to be taken out. Observe to make the folds 
angular, to give them proper form, and to preserve the 
reflexes, which, like those in the flesh, are warmer than 
the surrounding colour. 

Although too close an imitation of different stuffs is 
disapproved of by the best writers on art, it must be ob- 
served that woollen and silk stuffs have characteristic 
differences, which should not be overlooked by the painter. 
These differences will be perceptible in the form of the 
folds, and in the manner in which the light glances on 
them ; and they should be rendered with such a regard to 
truth of effect, that there should be no difficulty in decid- 
ing of what material a drapery is composed. 

As a general rule with regard to draperies, it may be 
remarked that where the lights are cool, the shadows 
should be warm, as in white draperies, where the middle 
tints consist of Cobalt and a little Indian Bed, and the 


shades of Sepia. But white drapery is modified by the 
surrounding objects ; for example^ where the background 
is green^ the shades of white drapery will incline to green ; 
where the background is blue, they will partake of that 

In black draperies, the lights should be cool and the 
shadows warm. A good colour for black draperies is 
made with Sepia, Lake and Indigo, which, if properly 
mixed, make as fine a Black as can be desired. 

In blue draperies the lights and half-lights are cold, 
the shadows warmed with Lake, or Lake and Sepia ; and 
where the blue approaches purple with orange. Cobalt 
may be used for the lighter tints ; and for the shadows, 
French Ultramarine strengthened in the deepest parts 
with Indigo and Lake. When black— black lace, for 
instance — ^is contrasted with deep blue, the former must 
be very warm; and instead of black, warm browns, 
heightened, if necessary, with Venetian Red, should be 
used, for these by contrast appear black. 

In yellow draperies, the shades are of Burnt Sienna, 
finished with Vandyke Brown, and the local colour. Gam- 
boge or Indian Yellow. 


The subject of backgroimds is one of great difficulty 
to the painter ; and so deeply was Sir Joshua Reynolds 


impressed with this truths that^ although he frequently 
intrusted different parts of his pictures to his pupils, he 
always painted the backgrounds himself. In a work, 
limited as the present is to the technical part of the Art, 
it is impossible to enter at length into this difficult subject. 
We shall, however, offer a few practical observations for 
the guidance of the student. 

As the figure should always be the principal object in a 
portrait, the background should be devoted to repose ; 
that is, it should be quiet and unobtrusive, and should be 
painted with retiring colours, which cause it to recede far 
behind the head of the sitter. It should consist of broken 
tints, and not of one uniform colour; and it should be 
lighter in some parts than others, that the figure may not 
appear to be inlaid. If objects are introduced into the 
background, they should be few in number, and should 
be kept subservient to the figure. The latter remark is 
applicable also to landscape backgrounds, which should 
consist of broad features and few details, and should be 
kept low in tone. The introduction of a few warm tints 
into the sky near the horizon serves to repeat the cdour 
of the flesh. The horizontal line should not be placed 
too low. The chief use of the "bit'^ of landscape and 
sky which we so frequently find in the portraits of Yan- 
dyck and Reynolds, seems to be to extend the light, which 
would otherwise have been confined to the figure. 

Backgrounds. 55 

There are two ways of relieving a figure ; in the one 
the light is on the figure ; in the other the figure appears 
dark on a light ground. For portraits the former is 
adopted ; and the tint of the background^ which is always 
kept low, in order to throw out the head, may be varied 
through all possible gradations from the shadow thrown 
on a white wall to the depth and obscurity which sur- 
rounds a figure placed just within an open window, or 
door. Light backgrounds involve less labour, but they 
have not the force of dark ones ; for that light will always 
appear brightest which is surrounded with the most in- 
tense dark. Some part of the figure should be lost in the 
ground, while part should come sharply out of it. 

With regard to the colours used in backgrounds, the 
observation already made as to laying in pure and bright 
colours in the first place may be here repeated. A bright 
red or amber-coloured curtain, or a clear blue sky, may 
be lowered to any tone required, but dirty colours can 
never be made to look bright. 

A red curtain may be painted in the following manner : 
Mark out the folds and shadows with Sepia, then lay a 
coat of Gamboge, over that, when dry, a coat of Carmine. 
Then deepen the shadows with Sepia and Lake, or Brown 
Madder. Lower the red tint by hatching with broad 
touches with Brown Madder; lower it still more, if ifleces- 
sary, with Sepia, either alone or with Lake, and if that 


does not throw it sufficiently back^ hatch it with Blue^ 
which will make it retire considerably further. 

A blue sky may be lowered with Indian Bed or Sepia, 
according to the tint desired to be produced. An amber- 
coloured curtain may be coloured with Gamboge or Indian 
Yellow, shaded with Burnt Sienna, and afterwards with 
Vandyke Brown, and lowered with Sepia. If it be desired 
to make it still more distant, Blue must not be resorted 
to as in the former case, for that would communicate to it 
a greenish hue, but a little of some red colour must be 
added to the Blue to neutralize it and make the Yellow 
retire. This effect is also assisted by painting a black 
pattern upon the yellow curtain, as was the practice of 
Vandyck and Paul Veronese. 

For landscape backgrounds, the sky and distance may 
be painted with pure Cobalt ; the clouds with Indian Bed 
and Blue, or with Venetian Bed and Blue ; a warm colour 
may be given to the horizon by touches of yellow and 
flesh colour. 

The distance, begun with Cobalt, may be continued as 
it approaches the eye with purple made of Cobalt and 
Lake. The next gradation may be Cobalt and Sepia; for 
the next Indigo and Sepia, adding more Sepia as the 
ground approaches the eye. A yellow tint may be given 
to tMe distant trees and herbage by Gramboge, but no 
brown wanner than Sepia should be used for distant trees* 



The sky and distance may be toned with Indian Red or 
Brown Madder and Blue^ alternately, or as occasion may 

In nearer trees warm browns should prevail, and very 
bright green tints should be introduced sparingly, because 
warm browns advance, while blue and green tints recede 
from the eye. 


In the course of the work it will be frequently neces- 
sary to make alterations and corrections. With care this 
may be done safely, but at the same time all unnecessary 
alterations should be avoided, lest in conducting the opera- 
tion the surface of the paper should be destroyed. 

If slight alterations only are required it will be suffi- 
cient to wet the part, and wipe it out with a piece of soft 
rag or bread ; and if any roughness is perceptible, it may 
be smoothed with the ivory ring or key-handle, first put- 
ting a piece of silver-paper over the drawing. If exten- 
sive alterations are to be made, the sponge must be used ; 
and in this case it may be found most convenient to cut 
a hole of the proper size and shape in a piece of thick 
drawing-paper, which is to be laid over the part of the 
drawing that is intended to be altered. A clean and 
small damp sponge is then to be placed upon the hole 


in the paper, which will prevent the moisture from spread- 
ing too far. The water in the sponge will soften the 
gum in the paint, which may then be carefully removed 
with the sponge without abrading the surface. Care must 
be taken that the damp sponge is not suffered to lie too 
long, and that too large a portion is not damped. After 
the removal of the colour, the paper should be suffered 
to dry, and when dry it may be repainted, first rubbing it 
with the ivory ring, if necessary. In case of any part 
having to be repainted, the original order of tints must 
be strictly followed, in order to preserve a clean effect ; 
for example, if the alteration be on the flesh, the first tint 
must be Venetian Bed, and on that the shadow colour^ 
Blue, or the colour of the cheeks, or any other tint which 
may have happened to be used. 

Some persons wash out the part to be altered with the 
sponge, but in doing this there is always danger of de- 
stroying the surface of the paper, so that there will be 
some difficulty in again painting on it, especially in the 
case of flesh, although the ivory ring may have been 
used. In such cases there is another remedy, which may 
sometimes be found effectual. This consists in rubbing 
the abraded surface with a piece of fine sand-paper, which 
removes the roughness, and produces a pleasant surface to 
work upon. The proper sand-paper is that which is num- 
bered 0* It may perhaps be necessary to rub two pieces 



of sand-paper together, before toucliing the painting with 

It is sometimes convenient where a small alteration is 
to be made, instead of washing out the colours to be 
altered, to lay on white, and on this, when dry, to make 
the necessary alterations. 


In conclusion, the writer would impress upon the 
learner, the importance of obtaining a thorough know- 
ledge of the technical part of portrait painting, and of 
the way in which the different tints are composed. This 
skill can only be acquired by practice, that is to say, by 
continual repetition ; and the advancement will be more 
certain, if the early stages of the process are mastered 
before proceeding to the finish. Every one conversant 
with art is aware how much is to be learned of methods 
of painting from the unfinished pictures by the great 
masters, which have been carefully preserved to our own 
time. The student is recommended to prepare such 
unfinished pictures for himself, by way of reference to the 
early stages of colouring, to which, as the tints are formed 
chiefly by working the colours separately, and not by the 
admixture of them on the palette, but little clue can be 
afforded by the finished picture. « 


A good example of a head shoiQd be selected for copy- 
ings and a copy begun^ which should be conducted as far 
as the second hatching mth Venetian Red. It should be 
left in that state^ and another commenced^ which should 
terminate with the first shadows that give roundness to 
the head. A third and a fourth copy should be begun^ 
and should be left in different stages of advancement, and 
lastly a perfect copy should be completed. The value of 
such a series of drawings is inappreciable to the learner^ 
who will be apt to forget the early processes^ and the 
order in which the different tints occur^ until by repetition 
he has acquired a knowledge of the respective situations 
of the tints, and a mechanical dexterity in applying them. 
One head copied in this careful manner will be sufficient. 
The student will place the copies in their different stages 
of progress by his side when painting; and if by chance, 
he should at any time forget how to produce certain effects 
of colour, he has only to refer to his key to obtain all the 
information he requires. It is true that this plan involves 
much labour, and requires patience and perseverance ; but 
to one really desirous of advancing in the practice of art, 
no amount of labour will be considered too great to ac- 
complish this object ; and the facility of execution to 
which this plan will lead, will amply repay the labour of 
acquiring it. The writer of this little work adopted the 
phto here described, and from the benefit she has derived 


^m it^ she thinks her time and labour well-bestowed^ 
and earnestly recommends it to the adoption of aU who 
really wish to attain eminence in art^ and to acquire that 
mechanical dexterity which will enable them to express 
their thoughts by painting. Having thus acquired dex- 
terity in the technical part of the art^ the student should 
go to Nature ; and with a good knowledge of form^ a bust 
by his side as a guide to the light and shade^ and his four 
or five keys to the colourings he will scarcely fail of 
acquiring a considerable amount of mechanical skill. If 
to the latter he unite habits of observation^ and diligent 
study of good pictures, he may hope, after years of 
patient labour, to attain excellence in the r^resentation of 



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